DJ Johnson and the Coming Age of Electric Bicycles

This is a watercolor I did of DJ Johnson, owner of Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest in Seattle.  I wanted to paint a picture of DJ partly because I think he has an interesting face but also because he runs a really cool bike shop where I’ve received nothing but phenomenal customer service.

DJ’s bike store is located in the Ballard area.  It’s a small shop, but it’s chock full of really cool electric bikes as well as a good collection of folding bikes.

Last fall, I dropped into the store and that is when I first met DJ.  He was super easy going and let me take a spin on the Vintage Electric Tracker.  Since the store is in a warehouse district that is transitioning to retail, there was a pretty wide long street behind the store where you can take any of his bikes for a spin.  Since then, I’ve had nothing but great customer service and friendly interactions with DJ and the other folks who work there.

If you are looking for an electric or folding bike, I highly recommend Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest.  I like supporting local businesses anyway, but when you combine that with a cool shop full of fun bikes and an owner, like DJ, dedicated to fantastic customer service and a “No Pressure” sales approach then I really want people to know about it.

I fell in love with the Vintage Tracker eBike immediately.

You just press the lever and the bike takes off like a rocket in total silence!  It’s a totally new experience to be on a bicycle and not have to peddle and to be able to go faster than you could go if you were peddling like a madman on a normal bike.

I have been looking at electric bikes for some time.  I knew I wanted one that was fun to ride, had good power and good distance on a charge.  But I also wanted one that looked really cool.  When I stumbled on to the web site for a California Company called , Vintage Electric Bikes, I was pretty sure I had found something special.  I started looking for a local dealer where I could buy one, and that’s how I found Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest and the owner, DJ Johnson.

I personally believe we are at one of those junctures where we’ll look back and say “That’s when the world changed in yet another interesting way” as we transition into the Age of Electric Bikes.I am pattern matching on the time when smart phones were just about to break through for the masses.  My experience with Electric Bikes is similar to how I felt about smart phones when they first came out.  They changed the way we lived.

In the same way, Electric Bikes totally change the way you think about transportation.  The technology is now at the “crossover” point where charge time, distance, price, and the speed are “good enough” that make the technology poised to go viral.

I’ll talk about each of these with respect to the bike I got, but you should note that this particular bike is one of the more expensive ones.  You can easily find an electric bike for under $2000, which puts the technology in the range of a normal good quality non-electric bicycle.

My Vintage Tracker can go 20 mph when it is in “street mode”.  But if you unscrew this little bolt on the side and screw in the Race Mode bolt, then the thing can go an amazing 35 mph.  When you’re in Race Mode, the bike is technically a motorcycle so you’ll want to check your local licensing laws, but Race Mode is so fun it’s the one that you end up wanting to be in.  You won’t go as far on a charge, but man is it fun!

Charge Time
Charge time for my bike is 2 hours.  I bought a little gadget from Amazon to turn off the power at 2 hours so that I don’t overcharge the bike.  I bought an extra charger so I can keep it at work so I can charge the bike on both ends of my commute.

Vintage claims the bike can go 35 miles on  charge, but I’ve run out of juice closer to 20.  Maybe it could travel 35 miles on a totally flat bit of ground with a rider that weighed half as much as me.  Still, I can fly around Bellevue for an hour and a half without needing a charge.  It’s so much fun, that I’m looking into options for how to possibly add more battery to extend my distance per ride.

The Vintage bikes are not cheap at $5k-$6k.  I ordered mine without the front shock absorbing fork and immediately regretted not having it so I had DJ order the better fork and put it on.

There’s one more thing worth mentioning.  Because this is an electric “bicycle” I  get to ride it on bike lanes.  This means that I can ride it all the way to work in the safety of the bike lane next to I 520 completely out of the way of cars and trucks.  To me this is really the best part.

If you are looking at electric bikes, check out Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest.  I think you’ll find, as I did, that you couldn’t have a better experience looking at options than looking at the bikes there and talking with “DJ”.